Hiking Vancouver Island North

A pandemic is a good time to stay local.

And physically distance from strangers outdoors. 😀

The only hiking I’ve done atop Vancouver Island is famed North Coast Trail.

In early July, I’m hoping to bikepack trailhead-to-trailhead.

There’s much to see. And a touring bike looks to be good transport in this remote area.

I’d get a ride to Port Hardy. Then cycle to as many of Gregg Strong’s recommended areas as possible.

I’d navigate with apps and the Vancouver Island Backroads Mapbook.

Click PLAY or watch some highlights on YouTube.

Check a map of trails and attractions.

West Coast Trail OPEN 2021

After a year closed, our #1 hike in the world is reopening to hikers June 4, 2021.

Reservations open April 30th. However … only Canadians will be eligible and no standby spaces will be available for walk-on hikers.

Click PLAY or watch a 1-minute preview on YouTube.

To learn more, check our WCT information page.

Hole in the Wall, Port Alberni BC

Hole in the Wall, a short day hike, is a is fast becoming a major attraction for the Vancouver Island community.

The hole is all that remains of a decades old water line.

Check in at the Port Alberni Visitor Centre for directions.

Parking is difficult though the trail itself is only an easy 1.3km return walk.

Rather than following the normal route as posted on AllTrails Port Alberni Hole in the Wall, I walked instead from an industrial park end of Sherwood Road.

Definitely muddier and less traveled, I did find it interesting. Nobody else parked there.

Here are the rough trails as shown on Maps.me.

Click PLAY or get a glimpse of my hike on YouTube.

BestHike #1 – West Coast Trail, British Columbia

West Coast Trail is our top hike in the world.

Click PLAY or watch a 1-minute preview on YouTube.

West Coast Trail

Challenging in many ways.

So much VARIETY in pristine Canadian coastal wilderness.

Mystic dawns and mind-blowing sunsets. Hidden pocket coves and weird coastal geology.

You’ll never forget the West Coast Trail.

WCT ladders

AT A GLANCE

  • 75 km (47 mi), 5-7 days Pachena Bay <> Gordon River
  • 3-5 day routes possible via Nitinaht Village trailhead
  • southwestern edge of Vancouver Island
  • Pacific Rim National Park
  • Permits required 
  • May 1 – September 30
  • extremely rugged, requires a high level of fitness
  • 6,000+ backpackers / year

Read more on our WCT information page.

Ammonite Falls the HARD WAY 😀

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Without checking in advance, I cycled out for my first visit to Ammonite Falls near Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.

Most convenient for me was the Weigles Road trailhead.

January 15th was the best weather we’ve had in 2021. A perfect day.

And it’s an easy day hike.

What could go wrong?

Turned out the BENSON CREEK trail to the Falls was closed for MAJOR improvements. I had to find another way.

Later I found out that other trails to the top of the Falls were open. 😀

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

related – Outdoor Vancouver – Ammonite Falls Hike

Click PLAY or watch the hike from the Jameson road trailhead on YouTube.

Nile Creek waterfalls in Winter

Nile Creek Trail is at least 10km (6mi) out and back near Qualicum on Vancouver Island.

AllTrails does not recommend it November through March as it’s very wet and muddy during winter.

Slippery too. Many rough boardwalks and log bridges.

On the other hand, water is high. The waterfalls and cascades even more impressive than in summer.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube. Starting from Charlton Drive, Qualicum Beach.

related – trip report of the second half – Get out and Play – Nile Creek

Top Bridge Trail, Parksville B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

A surprisingly rugged and interesting 5km day hike connects the town of Parksville with Top Bridge.

It’s official name is the Top Bridge Regional Trail.

In good weather, the bridge is a popular swimming spot.

Click PLAY or watch a December hike on YouTube.

If you have time, I’d strongly recommend continuing past the bridge on to the Englishman River Trail.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Running Qualicum, Vancouver Island

Qualicum Beach has a population of about 10,000.

It’s a charming retirement community — median age of 65.9 in 2016 — in one of Canada’s best winter climates.

Temperate rain forest is ideal for hiking, cycling or running year round. One highlight of Qualicum are the 400 year old Douglas Fir in their Heritage Forest.

Click PLAY or watch a December run on YouTube.

Qualicum is situated at the foot of Mount Arrowsmith, along the Strait of Georgia on Vancouver Island‘s northeastern coast.

By marneejill

Englishman River Trail, Vancouver Island

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

AllTrails calls this adventure the Englishman River Trailway.

But you don’t need follow the AllTrails 10.5km out and back route.

It’s a network of mountain biking / walking trails on the west side of the Englishman River. You can’t really get lost so long as you parallel the water.

I spend a lot of time here as I have family in Parksville.

This is temperate rain forest. It can be wet. It can be muddy.

Riparian.

But hiking is accessible year-round. In fact, this video was taken early December.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Most people park at the Top Bridge trailhead (green dot) close to highway 19 at Parksville. Head inland along the river for as far as they wish. Then backtrack.

I started on the far left of the map below at Middlegate Road trailhead. Walked to Top Bridge Park close to the highway. About 5km one way plus many side trips.

I often, as well, head the other direction, under the highway towards Parksville on the 5km Top Bridge Regional Trail.

In good weather, the bridge near the parking areas is a popular swimming spot.

Summer